When Animals Talk, NPR Listens : NPR Extra When Animals Talk, NPR Listens
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When Animals Talk, NPR Listens

Did you catch what just came out of that critter's mouth? What does it all mean?!

A sound engineer captures vocalizations from an elephant seal. The National Public Radio-National Geographic Society Sound Collection at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology hide caption

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The National Public Radio-National Geographic Society Sound Collection at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

A sound engineer captures vocalizations from an elephant seal.

The National Public Radio-National Geographic Society Sound Collection at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Listen, and listen closely. NPR has been decoding the rich, sonic communication between living creatures: the songs of whales, the call of a cricket, the chirp of a treehopper (a cousin of the cicada). And now you can tune into this wild world of "unheard" conversations.

Mamma and baby elephants share a moment. Andrea Turkalo/The National Public Radio-National Geographic Society Sound Collection at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology hide caption

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Andrea Turkalo/The National Public Radio-National Geographic Society Sound Collection at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Mamma and baby elephants share a moment.

Andrea Turkalo/The National Public Radio-National Geographic Society Sound Collection at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Airing on Morning Edition every Thursday throughout the summer, NPR's Close Listening: Decoding Nature Through Sound series follows Science correspondent Chris Joyce and Bill McQuay of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as they introduce us to the researchers who had the imagination to listen when others heard nothing. Together they unfold how humans can comprehend the "unheard" sounds that sustain the existence of life on this planet.

Of course, the real cat's meow is reserved for NPR's closest listeners.

Audio Submission Guidelines

  • Submit your audio file via email or with #DecodeNature
  • A .wav or an .mp3 file format is ideal for quality sound
  • Include your best guess about the identity of your mysterious, noisy neighbor...
  • Along with your full name, where you live and the email subject line "Decoding nature"

Interested in identifying your chattiest local critters and eavesdropping on what they're yakking about**? Capture the mysterious sounds of the creatures you're hearing and send us the audio file. With some help from researchers at Cornell University's Macaulay Library, we'll pinpoint who and what you're listening to.

**Although the sound of your own flatulence can be deliciously fascinating, resist the urge to record it. That means you, Dad.

After all, whether you're a night owl looking to sympathize with those crack-of-dawn bird calls or a beach bum jolted by that brassy seal bark, it's good to be a human who knows how to listen.

A humpback whale dives in Hawaii. The National Public Radio-National Geographic Society Sound Collection at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology hide caption

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The National Public Radio-National Geographic Society Sound Collection at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

A humpback whale dives in Hawaii.

The National Public Radio-National Geographic Society Sound Collection at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology